Accumulation of risk and promotive factors among young children in US military families.


In the families of the new cohort of war veterans now entering the civilian population in the United States are over two million young children (Cozza, Haskins & Lerner, 2013; Institute of Medicine, 2013). Several noteworthy studies have shown that children exposed to separation from a parent due to combat-related deployment are at elevated risk for a variety of negative consequences (Lester & Flake, 2013). Cozza et al. (2013) argue that existing studies of military children focus too much on the stresses or deficits they experience, failing to give sufficient attention to their strengths, the strengths of their families, or the supports around them. In the current study we focus on risk and promotive factors in the lives of children aged 0-10 in military families. We examine the likelihood of negative outcomes as functions of additive, cumulative, and interactive relationships between risk and promotive factors and children’s outcomes. Risk factors, particularly parental depression, community poverty, and cumulative risk, were more strongly associated with children’s outcomes than promotive factors. There was, however, a significant risk-protective relationship between accumulations of risk and promotive factors, consistent with promotive conditions operating in a protective fashion under conditions of elevated risk.